Hotels in Clark County adjust protocols, procedures during COVID-19

Hotels in the area have upped their cleaning standards, changed protocols for meetings and more

Hotels in the Clark County area have had to get even more rigorous and creative with their cleaning procedures, event and meeting protocols and more since the onset of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the DoubleTree by Hilton

The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced basically all businesses in the Clark County area to take a hard look at how they do business and to make some changes in order to ensure the safety of their employees and their clients/customers – and the hotel industry is no different.

In fact, the hotel industry is one that has had to make some of the most rigorous changes to cleaning protocols, how meeting rooms and conference rooms are used, and more. With numerous people from all over checking into hotels, utilizing guest rooms and meeting spaces, etc., cleanliness is on the forefront of many hotel employees’ minds.

“While the hospitality industry has faced heavy economic impacts, hotels are being very careful about safety procedures and policies to continue to keep guests safe, said Michelle McKenzie, director of marketing & communications at Visit Vancouver USA. “Many have implemented contactless check in, are conducting virtual tours for meeting planners, and have updated their room cleaning policies to make sure touch points are last cleaned and surfaces like remotes are protected.”

Jasmine Richardson, director of sales for the DoubleTree by Hilton in Vancouver, said both Hilton and Marriott hotels have been pretty active since everything started happening with COVID-19 back in March.

“Primarily it’s just adapting and piling onto what we’ve already been doing,” Richardson said. “Social distancing, masks, gloves, disinfecting areas that are regularly touched, no buffet-style things – a lot of commonsense type things.”

Specific to cleaning procedures, Richardson said Hilton has partnered with RB, makers of Lysol and Dettol, to create the Hilton CleanStay program. This program builds on Hilton’s already “rigorous” cleaning standards. Details of the CleanStay program can be found at https://www.hilton.com/en/corporate/cleanstay/.

“Extended-stay hotels (ones with kitchens and amenities meant for longer trips) are booming right now,” Richardson said. “For branded hotels like Hilton and Marriott, it really helps because we have a nationwide directive. Guests are safe and comfortable, and they visibly see us regularly cleaning and disinfecting.”

Richardson said Hilton hotels are also offering some creative ways for business professionals to hold meetings and events through their EventReady with CleanStay procedures.

“People are still apprehensive about hosting regular meetings and seminars, so we have a virtual meeting setup,” Richardson said. “All the technology needed is already set up and we provide the space to virtual broadcast (your meeting or seminar) that is a professional setting.”

Much like other hotels in the area, The Heathman Lodge in Vancouver has also revised and adapted their cleaning policies and procedures in order to ensure guest safety as well. In The Heathman’s reopening checklist that the VBJ received from Brady Wilkerson, general manager at The Heathman, details of what each specific department is doing can be found. These includes rigorous changes to cleaning and sanitization protocols for meeting rooms, the restaurant, kitchen, the front desk, guest rooms, public areas and for valet parking.

Richardson addressed how business has been at the DoubleTree by Hilton since the onset of COVID-19 back in March. She said that right after the first case was reported in Washington back in March, the hotel basically lost all of their occupancy and everything was canceled all at once.

“We were pretty dead all of March, pretty much all of April, then in May we started to see some people coming out a bit who were no longer wanting to stay home,” Richardson said. “In June, we started to pick up a bit more. During that time, the city of Vancouver was at about 20-40% in terms of hospitality occupancy. Right now, the city is at about 40-60%. There are a lot of industries that have essential travelers and there seems to be a lot of leisure travel to Vancouver. I think some of it might have to do with the fact that Portland has had protests/rioting going on, so maybe if they were going to stay in Portland they now decided to stay in Vancouver.”

As for moving into the future, Richardson said they are going to continue to be creative and “go with the flow – almost everything changes on a daily basis.”

“We’re starting to get real creative with how we can use the space that’s still successful and accomplishing what needs to be done,” she said. “Now we need to make sure we’re capturing as much business as we can.”

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.